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‘Great British Bake Off’ Biscuit Week Was Just Like Last Year, Obviously, You Fools

Friends fear the bakers are having to sculpt things that aren’t meant to be sculpted again

A horrifying sculpted mask made entirely out of biscuits.
Paul Hollywood getting ready to shake a poor baker’s hand.
Great British Bake Off

Welcome to the Eater round-up of Great British Bake Off 2022, as Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas, and Noel Fielding return to Channel 4 with the 13th series of cakes, puddings, breads, and inevitable recourse to terrible baking puns. It’s no longer filmed in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, but Paul Hollywood’s terrible handshake is here, sweaty as ever, and the tent stands on.

Great British Bake Off 2022 Episode 2 was, as ever, Biscuit Week. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith judged a macaron signature, a flapping technical, and yet another overdone showstopper, as the second episode of GBBO kicked off. Contestant introductions were many, one-liners were rife, and biscuit masks, yes, biscuit masks, toppled to the floor. Here, now, is a recap of Great British Bake Off 2022’s second episode.

When is a biscuit not a biscuit? When it’s a dog

Great British Bake Off continued its line in kooky, nonplussing intros by setting up what appeared to be a debate about what is a biscuit and what is a cake between Lucas and Fielding. Is the Jaffa cake, pub quiz cake-biscuit of dreams, about to get an airing? No: Paul Hollywood turns up, Lucas is holding a Westie, and that’s it.

An old favourite returns to the tent

No, not Sandi Toksvig: macarons. These recaps frequently criticise GBBO challenges for their shortcomings — whether in how much time they give the bakers, how ridiculous they are, or, frequently, both — so it is due time to give the show some credit. Macarons, with their pastel colours and sugared sheen, are just about ideal for an “illusion” challenge in which they mimic something else, with an easily cuttable dough and plenty of opportunity for decoration. So, well done: they did it right this time. (Is a macaron a biscuit? Ehhhhhhhh)

His palms are sweaty, his palms are sweaty, his palms!!!

A handshake? At this time of the series, at this time of the episode, in this part of the challenge, localised entirely within your tent?

No, actually, two handshakes, in two minutes: one for Dawn’s macarons and one for Maxy’s. There was a halcyon time in summer 2020 — not in general, a lot was bad then, but in terms of GBBO — when it seemed like the handshake had been cancelled. But no, it lives on, and along with it, Hollywood’s outsize influence on the judging.

Don’t worry, Prue’s still on her bullshit too

Do a Garibaldi biscuit technical. Add chocolate for no reason. Judge one biscuit for having too much chocolate. Stop it!

Please! Stop! Making! Bakers! Build! Things!

One school of Great British Bake Off thought says that the increasingly difficult, elaborate showstoppers — some of which, particularly as series progress, hinge on things that aren’t about baking at all — provide drama and add colour to a competition that would otherwise get a bit staid. This perhaps rings truer than other weeks in something like Biscuit Week, when gravitas can only be created by a high quantity of baking and some construction; one large biscuit would not a showstopper make. But that a GBBO contestant’s future can hinge on whether or not they know how to engineer some dough, or how to use icing as glue, and not whether or not they can bake good biscuits feels as maddening as it did last year, and nothing seems to have changed. This series’ showstopper required a mask that actually functioned as a mask, and aside from the brilliant nightmare fuel effort from James and the stunning elegance of Syabira’s, the bakers were left being judged on things that just don’t apply to the show they applied for.

Wait. Does this paragraph seem familiar? Is it word for word what this writer wrote about Biscuit Week last year? It is. This series was an opportunity for GBBO to fix itself, and so far, it doesn’t seem like it wants to do so. This particularly applied to Carole. She may have delivered the first bit of disaster drama for which this show is built, but when the disaster comes from the collapse of something unnecessarily complicated that she didn’t have a choice in making, it hits different — and not in a good way.

Star baker: Maxy
Going home: Maisam (harshly, really, given Rebs largely relying on others’ help to get anything in front of the judges.)
Running theme: Ahhhhh poor naïve viewer, you thought this show would change its spots...